Today is Midsummer's day, St. John's Day, one of the old quarter days of the year. Quarter days were the days when debts were settled, rents paid, that sort of thing. Christmas Day is counted as one as well as Lady's Day, March 25th, and Michaelmas, September 29th.
There is a tradition around Dundalk, Co.Louth, Ireland of lighting bonfires at the end of June, which I'm guessing might well be related to Midsummer's day, when bonfires were lit then in Ireland.
Traditionally one paid homage to fire, water and plants. So the bonfire bit makes sense. The water bit, might well be all the feicin rain we've been having lately, also good for putting out any bonfires: and the plants, well, they are benefiting from the rain, only too well!
Three weeks later, almost, I've killed all the bosses in Lara Croft's latest outing. It's a bit of a cheek really as it's just a souped up version of the very first Lara Croft Tomb Raider adventure. They called it Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and it did make for simpler playing, although the 'bullet moment' as it's been called was tricky to master - that's where times slows down, and Lara takes a pop at the big bad guy much more accurately than she normally can. I could do with a few of those in real life!
It was hard, it was obsessive, it nearly killed the art of conversation, but by Toutatis, it was worth it. My hand is sore, repetitive key strokes notwithstanding, but at least my head will no longer be tortured by dreams of how I should get past that tricky jump that I just can't make and have spent three days trying to jump!
Now I can't wait to go back and play it all again, this time from the comfort zone of knowing I can skip those horrid bosses if I want to...
Eight - nice number, divisible by two and four, oh and one. I 'ate eight (get on with it!) Alrighty!
First: 1. I have to post these rules before I give you the ficts. 2. Each participant posts eight random facts about themselves (I'm sure I've done this before). 3. Tagees should write a blogpost of eight random ficts/facts about themselves. 4. At the end of the post, eight more bloggers are tagged (named and shamed). 5. Go to their blog, leave a comment telling them they're tagged (cut and run).
Randomly generated ficts:
1. My parents had a row with the person I was to be named after, shortly after I was born, and changed my name so that I was named for Santa Barbara in California. I haven't forgiven them. Latterly. 2. I used to tell people I had a dead twin when I was about six or seven. I don't. 3. I once wrote a play about St. Augustine in primary school. I can't remember who he is now or why I thought a play about him was a good idea. 4. My mother had a pattern for a blouse that I once made about ten different versions of, across four years. Amazingly they always fitted. 5. I played the Irish harp for about three years as a teenager and got placed in Irish Feis' twice. Not conducive to looking cool as a teenager though, lugging a great big lump of wood with strings around. 6. I get really horrible stage fright before reading poetry, but try to harness the adrenaline as best I can. Bit masochistic, I think. 7. I have a really high threshold for pain (giving birth to six kids is a bit of a giveaway, really). 8. I have a really high threshold for holding hot things as a result of working with tiles and kilns a lot when I was younger. I do still have fingerprints, though.
Debi Alper has received the book safely, so expect her piece soon.
Also there is another strand to this blog-phenomenon (not knowing what else to call it) now, as Jeff McDonald at ArcheoTexture has flagged up. He is passing it on to another West Texas blogger Janie, at Sounding Forth.
I've never been so glad and yet so sad to receive post as I was today. I'm torturing myself with trying to write formal poetry for the creative writing course, which means a preoccupation with counting syllables, noting stresses and getting very stressed indeed.
Take Off Your Party Dress arrived today, sent from Minx, which came from Lowebrow. It has come from the UK to Ireland and will be going back there once I've finished this piece, as Debi Alper has already asked to be the next blogger to write about it. The idea is to raise blogging awareness and funding for the book's subject matter: breast cancer. The author Dina Rabinovitch is a journalist, whose speciality is children's authors.
The book is a collation and expansion of Dina's columns about her experiences of treatment: from her diagnosis, her chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation therapy and follow on chemo. In that vein the book uses the present tense, which would have suited the original journalistic immediacy of the columns, but in this gathering helps establish reader empathy (yep I shed a few too), almost as though we experience with Dina her fight against The Enemy Within.
In my own case, I found myself feeling for Dina's predicament of organising her treatment around her 'blended' family - I too have a blended (largish) family, with kids going off here and there to visit with dads. Dreaded school runs, organising meals, holidays - just generally being there, whilst having some sort of thing/money/writing to call mine own...
And so I found myself drawn hugely to Dina's secure sense of familial relationships underpinning her journey through the various stages of physical treatment and psychological changes. In particular her smallest son Elon's breast feeding is a major consideration, when considering the first stages of diagnosis. Her dilemma of choosing between herself and her child demonstrates in microcosm the beginning of many decisions that change her and her family life. Dina's story rings true with me, because it is a story of Everywoman. Some day, some of us will face the same trials. A real heart-breaking moment of identification comes when she examines, post op, the area where her breast used to be, and feels the moment of milk-summoning still within her body.
Rabinovitch comes across as a real fighter: getting on with life because she must. Coping with the changes of mastectomy, by looking for clothes that work with it, rather than hiding it, because this is how she is - not a person who tells untruths to her children about her condition, but someone who wears it as it is, even when caught in the bathroom!
We read how long it takes her to master her own fears and what her coping mechanisms are. But underpinning all is Dina's sense of faith in her own family, what they are and what futures they have too. There are answers too, to the small questions - the gloriously mundane ones like, what will I do while enduring chemo injections, or what moisturiser should I use to speed the scar healing process?
I won't lie and tell you that Take Off Your Party Dress offers miracles. What it does offer is an honesty so often unheard, and imbued with the wonderful quirkiness of a writer whose deft writing skill is admirable. I would urge you, if you have had your interest piqued to go out and buy a copy. Not enough is spoken about this disease and how it is treated and Rabinovitch marshalls this story with a huge deal of grace and dignity under immense pressure.
Indeed this blogging support that has began with Lowebrow and Minx for Take Off Your Party Dress will hopefully highlight how Dina's courage in writing her story of breast cancer can indeed become, paraphrasing her, a 'necklace of women across the world.' I really do wish Dina better, as we used to say to each other in school.
Makes stressing about stresses quite small, really.